Summer swim training


JULY 2015 – Summertime is the ideal season to get your swim training in. Pools are more accessible and the weather sometimes seems to require that cooling off time. Although you might be hot from the summer heat, your muscles are most likely cold and need to be warmed up by stretching before jumping in the pool for your workout.

Be sure to stretch your triceps, lats and shoulder muscles. Kicking relies on the muscles of the leg and buttocks, so these will need to be prepared as well. Most athletes know to do their stretching before their workout; however, it is equally important to do a warm-down stretch once the workout is over. This helps loosen up muscles and prepare them for recovery. Stretching is the single-most important strategy to preventing sports injuries.

The most common swim injury is swimmer’s shoulder. Swimmer’s shoulder is an overuse injury to the rotator cuff caused by repetitive over-head motion. Excess training in any one swim stroke can cause a higher probability of a repetitive motion injury. Therefore, it is ideal to cross train with all of the different swim strokes.

Health & Fitness ReportShoulder injuries in swimming are commonly assumed to be only from over-use; however, injuries can very likely be from poor technique also. By utilizing a good stroke, the athlete can swim more efficiently, use less muscle power and preserve energy to excel in the stronger discipline areas.

Working on your technique will also go a long way in preventing injury and maximizing efficiency. Practice your swim stroke often. Spend a couple of times a week concentrating on your stroke when you swim laps. Even a small flaw in your stroke can cost you time and energy no matter how many years you have been swimming. Try a master class or have one or two coaching lessons to verify your stroke is formed correctly.


A few things to look out for on your stroke are:

  • not rotating your body enough as you swim – this causes overexerting your shoulder
  • making sure your hand does not cross over on the entry – which causes you to strain your shoulder at an awkward angle
  • positioning of your elbow – if you drop your elbow on the pull through motion, it puts more strain on the shoulder muscles and should instead be utilizing the back muscles.

Finally, strength training is important to avoiding injury during swimming. When strength training for swimming, you must take into account the resistance a swimmer meets in the water and train accordingly. Swimming utilizes most muscles in your body, so you should participate in some overall weight training. Just remember to increase the weights gradually. Slow progress is the key to safe resistance training.

Article by Dr. Lynn McIntosh. Dr. McIntosh is a board certified Chiropractor, licensed in Kansas and Missouri. In addition to being licensed to provide general chiropractic care, she is also a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, working with athletes from multiple disciplines on specific sports-related problems and a Certified Acupuncturist. She can be found on the internet at

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